Sarah Lipstate of Noveller
In the few short years that Sarah Lipstate has made herself at home in Brooklyn, she's established herself within the noise and avant garde scenes, performing with Rhys Chasm, passing a stint as Parts and Labor's guitarists, and releasing her first full-length on No Fun Productions, Red Rainbows this fall. We talked to her about leaving Parts and Labor, getting X-Ray footage from chiropractors, and the art of knitting.
Noveller, at No Fun Fest 2009. Photo by Nate Dorr.
Did you get any touring fatigue with all the traveling Parts and Labor does?
Totally. It was really hard on me being gone for a month at a time and having such a crazy schedule. I missed my girlfriend a ton, and I also missed sleeping and my friends and home. I think that when I tour for Noveller, I’ll definitely try and plan shorter stints and maybe work in some leisure time to explore the cities I’m playing.
What are some of the reasons that you left Parts and Labor?
The touring schedule was a big part of it. I would get really stressed out on tour and it was really obvious to the guys that I wasn’t enjoying life on the road. Their plans for the band include doing a lot more touring in the future and that conflicted with what I wanted. We decided that it would probably be a lot more productive for everyone if I left and focused on Noveller.
What was the last thing you knit?
I knit a lovely beige scarf as a birthday gift for my sister Katie. She lives in Louisiana, so it will probably be a while before it’s cold enough for her to wear it. I actually loaned my knitting needles to BJ from Parts & Labor who learned to knit so that he could make a baby shower gift, so I’m on a knitting hiatus.
Do you still want to be in a straight-up rock band with songs at some point?
I’m open to it. I definitely enjoy performing in that kind of setting. It’s a fun release and so different from what I do when I perform as Noveller. Maybe I’ll incorporate aspects of what I like about playing rock shows into my solo performances.
How was working with Carlos Giffoni? How many Red Rainbows are you printing?
It was the first time that I recorded Noveller pieces in a studio and it was helpful having Carlos on hand to listen to the tracks and give advice. Collaborating with him for the track “Bends” was a lot of fun. No Fun is pressing 1000 copies of Red Rainbows on CD and will re-press if there’s demand. The record won’t be released on vinyl, but there’s still a handful of copies of my LP Paint on the Shadows available through No Fun. The two releases share the track “St. Powers”.
Is No Fun your home for the near future re: future releases?
Yeah, I think that No Fun will likely be the place to find future Noveller full-length releases. I’m working with a couple of smaller labels for some collaborations and split LPs at the moment also. Right now, I’m finishing up my half of a split LP with Aidan Baker that the Canadian label Divorce Records will release in the Fall.
What comes first for these films, the concept or the materials? How'd you find a doctor who'd give you X-Rays for your film?
It varies from project to project, but typically the concept comes first. For my most recent film Interior Variations, however, I decided to use footage from my archive and let the materials inspire a structure. I was specifically interested in incorporating the fluoroscopic x-ray footage into the piece. I originally used the x-ray footage in a video installation I created for six televisions when I was in college. I came across a clip of the footage on a chiropractor’s web site and contacted the doctor via email to see if he would be kind enough to send me some of the videos for my installation. Luckily, he did!
You've been playing with Rhys Chatham of late? What's he like as an ensemble leader?
I love playing in ensembles with Rhys. He has a very clear vision for the sound of his pieces but there’s also so much flexibility and improvisation built-in. He emphasizes the power that each player has to completely change the sound of the piece based on the harmonic choices you make. He makes performing minimalist music exciting.
Would you agree that the No Fun noise scene (and many others) are largely male dominated? Does that make you feel self-conscience?
Sure. Most of the taste-makers in noise are guys and though I don’t think it’s a conscious exclusion, I do think that it’s a tough crowd to break into for anyone. If I’m the only woman performing then it’s more apparent. I really try to encourage the inclusion of more women in shows and events whenever I have any kind of influence.
Did you discover any new techniques for the double neck guitar while creating the music for Red Rainbows?
Yes, but it’s a secret.